How long do Macs last before they need replacing?

If you have a Mac that is getting a little old, or you’re thinking about buying a second-hand Mac, you will have at some point considered how long your Mac will last. It’s not an easy question to answer, but we’ll cover all the issues here. We’ll also show you how to make your Mac last a little longer than it would otherwise do.

Macbooks

How long do Macs last according to their specification?

macOS updates

There are several different ways to look at how long MacBook Pros last (or any other Mac). The first, and possibly most important, is how long your Mac will be able to run a version of the OS that’s supported by Apple. The current version of macOS is Big Sur. That will be supported, given Apple’s recent record, until late 2023. So, if you have a Mac that can upgrade to Big Sur, you can expect software updates to be available for another three years.

Here’s the list:

  • MacBook models from early 2015 or later
  • MacBook Air models from 2013 or later
  • MacBook Pro models from 2013 or later
  • Mac mini models from 2014 or later
  • iMac models from 2014 or later
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro models from 2013 or later

In addition to Big Sur, Apple also currently issues software updates for Catalina and Mojave. As long as your Mac is capable of running macOS Mojave, you will still be able to update it and keep it safe from security problems and malware until late 2021.

Here is the list of Macs capable of running macOS Mojave:

  • MacBook (early 2015 or later)
  • MacBook Air (mid-2012 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (mid-2012 or later)
  • Mac mini (late 2012 or later)
  • iMac (late 2009 or later)
  • iMac Pro (2017 or later)
  • Mac Pro (late 2013 or later, although 2010/2012 machines with a Metal-capable GPU are supported)

If your Mac is on that list, or if it’s newer, it can still be updated. However, if it’s one of the earlier Macs on the list, you may want to think about replacing it before the next version of macOS is launched.

According to MacWorld, the average MacBook Pro lasts from five to eight years.

Based on OS updates alone, you can see that a Mac typically lasts between eight and 11 years, depending on the model. Apple launched the first MacBook in 2015, which is why it has a more recent date.

Compatible apps

The next thing to consider is whether your Mac can comfortably run the apps you need. If you’re running older versions of applications and want to upgrade to more recent versions, you’ll need to consider whether they will work on the version of the OS your Mac is running and within the hardware limitations of the Mac itself. This, of course, varies widely between applications, so it’s impossible to provide accurate guidance. However, one thing to consider is that if you’re still running older versions of apps and want to upgrade to the latest OS version, you will need to make sure the app is 64-bit. If it’s 32-bit, it won’t run, and you will need to update it.

Hardware

Apple hardware typically lasts much longer than that from competing manufacturers. Lots of people have Macs that are 10 or even 20 years old that still work. And there are a few that are even older than that.

The flip side is that Apple products are notoriously tricky to fix or upgrade and usually have to be sent to Apple or taken to an authorized service center. So, to answer the question of how long Macs last, we have to work out how old a Mac can be and still be repaired if something goes wrong. Apple says that Macs will be serviced and spare parts available for five years after it stops selling that particular model. After that, it considers the model to be “vintage.” Vintage Macs are those between five and seven years old. Apple will service these through authorized service providers, subject to the necessary parts being available.

Macs, over seven years old, are considered “obsolete.” Apple or its service providers will not service obsolete Macs. From a repair point of view, Macs last seven years from the moment they are no longer on sale. Macs are typically on sale for around a year, though some models have been sold for much longer. That means a typical Mac lasts eight years from a hardware perspective.

How do you know when it’s time to get a new Mac?

First, you need to find out how old your Mac is if you haven’t done so already. Click on the Apple menu and choose About this Mac. You should see a year next to the model number. That’s the one you need.

How to check for updates on Mac

If your Mac can no longer be updated, can’t run the apps you need to run, or is considered obsolete by Apple, it’s probably time to buy a new one. However, those aren’t the only indications that you should consider an upgrade. If your Mac is running very slowly, for example, it may not be up to the job of running the latest versions of your applications. Or it may need more RAM, but you can’t upgrade it.

If the battery life on your MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro seems to get shorter every week, it’s probably a sign that the battery is nearing the end of its life. That’s another hint that it may be time to get a new Mac.

Don’t immediately buy a new Mac if your current model is a bit slow, though. You can do plenty to speed it up and free up some space on the boot disk in the process.

Try this before you buy a new Mac

There are several reasons you may think it’s time to upgrade to a new Mac. A lack of storage space on your boot drive may be one of them. Even if you do your best to optimize storage, it seems applications just keep getting bigger and bigger and taking up more space.

However, there is an alternative. CleanMyMac X can free up gigabytes of storage space by allowing you to clearly see what’s taking up all the space on your drive. CleanMyMac X’s Space Lens shows you graphically which files are taking up the most room. You can then choose which to delete or move to another drive.

How to visualize disk space on Mac
  1. Download, install and launch CleanMyMac X.
  2. Choose Space Lens from the sidebar.
  3. Press Scan.
  4. Double-click on a bubble to see the files and folders inside.
  5. Hover over files and folders to check their size - the bigger the bubble, the larger the file or folder.
  6. Select a file or folder in the middle window and press Remove to delete it.

CleanMyMac X has another feature to clear the junk that slows down your machine — Large & Old Files module lists those files that are taking up significant space or which have sat on your drive unopened for a long time, so you can deal with them and free up space quickly.

How to find old files on Mac

The question of how long do Macbooks last, or indeed any other Macs, is not an easy one to answer. But if you follow the steps above, you should be able to work it out for your Mac or one you are thinking of buying second-hand. If you use CleanMyMac X to clear out the junk on your Mac, you may be able to make it last just a little bit longer.

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

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